In this article, you will get all information regarding The distribution problem of black and white films: the streamers are to blame – World Time Todays

The last few cycles of Oscar season gave a jolt to the type of filmmaking that was made on the fringes of Hollywood, or even outside of its confines. When a Korean-language social thriller (“Parasite”), a poetic road trip film populated mostly by non-actors (“Nomadland”), and a wacky comedy about an alienated Asian American (you know the one) can all win best Picture, previous assumptions about movies with limited appeal have no basis in reality.

However, a stigma remains. Black and white films remain the aesthetic choice that the market continues to reject.

I was drawn to this edition while looking at the lineup for the Museum of Moving Image’s First Look festival in Queens, which showcases a daring selection of recent sleeper hits from the festival circuit. While many of the bigger Sundance films didn’t sell because they cost too much, First Look shows the other end of the equation: This lesser-known selection, including several Sundance premieres, goes unsold for reasons based on assumptions of limited appeal . This includes two major black and white films, the premiere selection Fremont and Mami Wata.

I was a fan of “Fremont” back in Sundance, where it was shown in the NEXT section and offered a delicious throwback to early Jim Jarmusch through a fresh lens. Iranian-born director Babak Jalali’s melancholy comedy follows an Afghan translator (Anaita Wali Zada) who immigrates to California and gets a job at a fortune cookie factory. There’s a sweet, poignant quality to the film as its young protagonist tries to find some level of camaraderie in an alienated American landscape, and she eventually forges an unlikely bond with an auto mechanic (Jeremy Allen White from The Bear).

Shot cheaply with only a modicum of star power (white appears towards the end), “Fremont” may not be an obvious commercial bet, but it’s powerful enough to warrant buyers’ attention. It’s an emotional story, entertaining, and hits a representative milestone with an immigrant experience we’ve never seen in cinemas. And “Fremont” remains unsold.

While in town for the film’s First Look premiere, Jalali told me he had been turned down for one reason. “Everyone on the distribution front said they ‘loved’ the film, but it boiled down to the black and white issue,” he said. “So they didn’t make any offers.” This for a film represented by CAA, the kind of power player who prides himself on getting results.

Faced with the same problem is Mami Wata, CJ Obasis’ Nigerian folklore drama about two sisters in a village who find themselves at a crossroads when their mother’s connection to a water goddess who protects their community is called into question. It’s a beautiful, gorgeous piece of filmmaking that often seems like it was fed from another dimension; So far it is trapped there as well. The distribution challenge for “Mami Wata” is compounded by another lingering stigma – the foreign language – that persists, despite the efforts of international cinema warriors like Alfonso Cuarón and Bong Joon-ho, who fight for the belief that subtitled films deserve an audience in the US – Buyers startled.

Black and white filmmaking has no such public defenders. Many distributors’ release deals for their Pay 1 windows exclude black-and-white films, meaning buyers don’t have much incentive to consider them. That’s why you’re unlikely to find much contemporary black-and-white movies on Hulu, which has output deals with Neon, Bleecker Street, and Roadside Attractions, among others. (Good luck tracking down Guillermo del Toro’s black-and-white “Nightmare Alley” on Hulu; you’ll have to dig through the specifics to find it and realize what it is.)

There is much disagreement as to whether viewership figures show resistance to black-and-white films or whether it is just an untested assumption. Streaming managers told me they see “muted engagement” for black-and-white content; others say it depends on positioning. Pablo Larraín’s upcoming Netflix project El Conde, for example, uses black and white as a nod to German Expressionism to frame his vision of Augusto Pinochet as a vampire dictator. According to Larráin’s producer and brother Juan De Dios Larráin, Netflix supported the idea from the start. “Audience expects art house films when they’re in black and white, but that’s just a first impression,” he said. “Sometimes they can be very accessible stories.”

"C'mon C'mon"

“C’mon C’mon”


In another recent example, A24 brought Mike Mills’ 2021 black-and-white drama “C’mon C’mon” to Showtime because it edited out a handful of it Optional Black and white film slots in its output deal. This solution has a key flaw: it creates a higher level of sensitivity to the black and white problem and suggests that it’s a problem rarely worth the risk. Why waste the slot?

Part of that stigma stems from a larger issue related to the preservation of film history. A few months ago I wrote about the uncertain future of Turner Classic Movies, a brand within the Warner Bros. Discovery empire tasked with engaging audiences in a niche most executives assume isn’t being tapped can be. The reluctance to tell stories in black and white acts as a continuation of the same stigma attached to so-called “classic films”. It’s not a monolithic category, but it’s treated as such: anything that falls into it doesn’t get a real chance.

The creative ramifications are breathtaking. Imagine if the market worries of 1960 forced Alfred Hitchcock to do Psycho in color. Taking this hypothesis one step further, consider all the artistic ambition of black and white storytelling that filmmakers have submitted because few distributors want to touch it.

In a data-driven economy, content is often defined by assessments of what viewers want…but audiences can be fickle and unpredictable. Give them a play button for something that looks cool, exciting, and a little different, and they might give it a try. Black and white has a better chance here than streamers might think.

Today, most viewers watch thumbnails on their streamer of choice until a single enticing image catches their eye. Drain the paint out of the frame and it might pop out a little more. This is the case where more producers and sales representatives have to cater for black and white projects. Believe me, “Fremont” and “Mami Wata” are worth your time, and they’re not alone.

As usual, I solicit reader feedback on this week’s column from industry insiders and beyond:

Check out previous columns here.

Last week’s column on the potential of low-budget Oscar campaigns, in which I estimated that a guerrilla campaign could cost as little as $150,000, elicited a number of compelling responses. Here are two of them.

“Very clever article. However, I think you’re missing out on some significant costs – the tickets, tables, travel and glamor if you’re getting something along the way. The bonuses for the PR consultants. …You have to talk about pre- and post-nom, but that post-nom expense may start with Gothams in November. And “To Leslie” had the Spirit cost cut before it won the Oscar. You’ll need cash on hand if you even narrowly manage to garner nominations for a recognized award with a mandatory ceremony. Not to mention the high cost of the Oscars themselves – you have to find the money. I think you need to have around $50-100k on hand as table/ticket/travel/glamour treasury. Spirits and Gothams are on opposite shores. Inevitably, a working actor has to be flown out somewhere for something, even just a performance.”
—Anonymous distributor

“Let’s break down for a day’s work here with an indie look — car, $1,000, glam/styling (depending on talent) $2,000-$4,000, hotel and per diem in New York, $1,000-$1,500 a day; LA might cost $600 (this applies to basic rooms, taxes and daily rates. Flights are generally all business. European flights are all $10-12k. In the US they cost around $2500. Some may need guests, so think about it after that costs every festival and every single event – ​​Telluride, Toronto, NYFF, LA trip, release trip to NY or LA, regional festivals. And a lot of people have families and kids so they can’t just stay somewhere for a month or six months. “You have to go back and forth. When you think about ‘To Leslie’ making $23,000, it clearly doesn’t add up.”
– Anonymous publicist

Registration: Stay up to date on the latest movie and TV news! Sign up for our email newsletter here. The distribution problem of black and white films: the streamers are to blame

The distribution problem of black and white films: the streamers are to blame – World Time Todays

For more visit

Latest News by